In August, Donald Trump was touting all the major polls, many of which at that time had him closing the gap on Hillary Clinton and even leading her in some instances. In September, as his numbers began to spiral downward, Trump changed his tune and began claiming the polls were tilted in favor of his opponent. Now, in late October, he has gone full-conspiracy-theorist, claiming that not only are the polls merely liberal propaganda, the very election itself is rigged against him.
In fact, almost all credible national polls — FiveThirtyEight, New York Times, ABC, Real Clear Politics, even Fox News — are indicating, with two weeks to go, that this election will be an electoral blowout. Several states that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in decades are now either leaning blue or rated as toss-ups, including Georgia, Arizona, and even Texas.
The early voting results are just as daunting for Trump, with the Democrats crushing the GOP early turnout in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, and other traditional "tossup" states. In addition, GOP early voting numbers are running far behind those of Mitt Romney in 2012.
The venerable Cook Report said this week that even if Trump wins all remaining toss-up states, including Ohio and Florida, he'll still fall 10 votes short in the Electoral College.
As Trump's path to 270 electoral votes narrows to near impossibility, the campaign is beginning to look like an episode of The Walking Dead. Campaign surrogates go on television and say one thing, and before you can change the channel, their candidate has stepped on that message or, more likely, said just the opposite.
The saddest of these Trumpettes is GOP National Committee Chairman Reince ("i before e, except after capital R") Priebus, who is caught between outraged GOP donors who've abandoned the party's presidential candidate and the candidate himself, who's disparaging party leaders and seemingly doing all he can to discourage votes for down-ballot Republican candidates.
When challenged on a Sunday morning talk show to defend Trump's stated unwillingness to accept the results of the election, Priebus sputtered a magnificent piece of pretzel prose: Trump, he said, is "not willing to not concede if he loses and there's no fraud." What?
Meanwhile, Trump's Washington, D.C., "policy office" shut down, as staffers resigned because they hadn't been paid in months. And new allegations, this time, about cocaine and models parties in the 1980s, popped up. On the campaign trail, Trump continued to throw out one reason after another the system was conspiring to deprive him of his rightful place in the White House.
The more I read about these huge early voting totals, these state polls moving relentlessly blue, the more I'm convinced that there are a whole lot of people who want to see Trump go down like the Hindenberg. They're voting so they can watch the spectacular humiliation of the man whose narcissistic charade of a campaign destroyed an election cycle — and maybe a major American political party — and lured America's ugly racist underbelly out of the shadows. Schadenfreude is probably an underreported poll motivation.
It's a fitting end, though, to the 15-month reality show that Trump created and the GOP failed to stop. If you enumerated all the outrageous things that have happened and have been said in this campaign and tried to pass it as fiction, no one would believe it. Trump's probable dysfunctional meltdown after getting his ass kicked on November 8th is really just the ultimate season finale. Must-see TV.
Of course, it's still theoretically possible that all this blue polling and all these early voting stats are wrong. If so, they would be masking what would be the greatest turnaround in the history of American politics: a Donald Trump victory.
But I'm not not willing to not believe that.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."